Origin App | 🚀 👨👨👧👦
The idea: The new Origin app offers a truly tech-first travel experience by pairing users with an expert travel curator to plan your dream trip.
Details: The questionnaire is what sets Origin apart from other online travel-planning services. The roughly 10-minute process asks you about basics like pricing, location, and duration, but then dives into personal interests such as travel priorities and previous trip favourites to help its own staff of eight (human) travel experts create a completely customised itinerary. Once all is planned, you can access everything on the app, in one place, before, during, and after the vacation – from information around Covid-19-related requirements to dinner reservations. The best part is that the app learns from your previous trips and applies this information for even more tailored suggestions in the future, making it perhaps the smartest innovation in digital trip planning.
Why it matters: Overall, the app cuts down the effort of trip planning for a tech-savvy audience.
Planeterra | 🌱 👨👨👧👦
The idea: This organisation’s new grant program, the Global Community Tourism Fund, supports community-based tourism initiatives, ultimately making the future of travel more responsible and equitable.
Details: Tourism generates some $8 trillion globally, yet local communities barely see a sliver, if any, of it. Planeterra has spent two decades working to fix that – the Toronto-based NGO bolsters small, community-owned tourism enterprises around the world with training, logistical support, and mentorship. Planeterra’s new initiative, the Global Community Tourism Fund, is one of the industry’s first programs to provide grants ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 specifically for community-based tourism organisations. It awarded grants to seven businesses during its first funding round in May, including Lavender Jeep Siem Reap, a Cambodian adventure outfitter led by female entrepreneurs, and ASTURS PERÚ, a Peruvian homestay network operated by local Indigenous families. “Most of these are fairly small grants that have a huge impact in relieving out-of-pocket expenses for small community enterprises,” says Tricia Schers, the NGO’s director of partnerships and development.
Why it matters: Many community-tourism enterprises struggle to secure bank loans; this program helps fill that funding gap, providing grants to help local entrepreneurs and communities benefit from tourism.
Beyond Green | 📐 🌱
The idea: An offshoot of parent company Preferred Hotels Group, Beyond Green is a global portfolio of hotels, resorts, and lodges leading the charge in sustainability.
Details: If a Relais & Châteaux hotel is measured by the quality of its spa and the prestige of its Michelin-starred restaurants, then a Beyond Green property can be judged by its carbon-emission benchmarks, hiring practices, and use of locally sourced materials. “Moving forward, the successful hotels will be the ones that really invite guests to actively be a part of something, and to be able to feel the impact that they’re having while they’re there,” says Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO of Preferred Hotels Group. The collection currently features 26 properties around the world – like The Brando in French Polynesia, which cosponsored the island nation’s recent Blue Climate Summit, and Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico, which has restored and preserved more than 500,000 acres of natural habitat and provides guests with guided conservation tours.
Why it matters: By collating these properties under one banner, Beyond Green has done the legwork for environmentally minded guests looking for an eco-hotel – a blueprint other hotel consortiums can follow to make it easy for travellers to choose the best place to stay.
Airbnb | 🤝 ♿
The idea: With its accessibility reviews powered by a team of specialists, Airbnb aims to personally verify every rental’s accessibility features.
Details: An unfortunately common issue physically disabled people face when they travel is arriving at a vacation home to find it isn’t as accessible as advertised – something that can make booking short-term rentals a stressfully inconsistent experience. It’s a problem Airbnb hopes to eliminate with its accessibility reviews. Introduced in late 2021 alongside streamlined accessibility search filters, the new review process requires hosts to upload photos of any accessibility features they list, ranging from step-free entrances and showers to ceiling and mobile hoists. In the past year, Airbnb’s team of dedicated accessibility specialists has manually reviewed and verified 150,000 accessibility features in nearly 100,000 listings around the world.
Why it matters: Unlike hotels, short-term vacation rentals are not closely regulated for accessibility – Airbnb’s accessibility reviews set a new standard for the short-term rental market.
AccessNow | ♿
The idea: This pioneering accessibility app is mapping trails to empower people of all abilities to explore the outdoors.
Details: Stretching 17,000 miles, the Trans Canada Trail is the longest network of multi-use paths in the world. Now there’s a new movement to use first-person reviews and artificial intelligence to identify which segments are accessible to people with disabilities. In 2021, it partnered with AccessNow – a tech platform that shares crowd-sourced accessibility data worldwide – to map its barrier-free paths, using insights from real people (some of them Paralympic athletes) and sensor and image data. Founded by Maayan Ziv, a Toronto-based activist, photographer, and entrepreneur with muscular dystrophy, AccessNow launched in 2015 as a grassroots tool to help people find and rate venues like restaurants and hotels based on accessibility features like ramps and braille. To date, the first-of-its-kind app has mapped about a million places worldwide in 35 countries.
Why it matters: A platform like AccessNow could be key in helping the world recognise the value of designing and promoting accessible-first experiences.
Great Plains Conservation | 🦏
The idea: Project Rewild Zambezi is the biggest relocation of animals in history.
Details: Great Plains Conservation was cofounded in South Africa in 2006 by Dereck and Beverly Joubert, conservationists and filmmakers focused on big cats in the Okavango Delta. It’s now a standard-bearer in eco-luxury safari, with camps in Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe. The Jouberts concentrate on emergency conservation in the fight against environmental degradation, mass extinction, and the effects of poaching and the bushmeat trade. The $5.5 million Project Rewild Zambezi, which launched in June 2022, centres on relocating 3,000 animals – including elephant herds, lions, buffalo, impalas, zebras, painted dogs and eland – from the overpopulated Savé Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe’s south to the hunting-degraded concession Sapi Reserve on the Zambezi. Guests at Great Plains’ Tembo Plains Camp can witness the conservation in action, too.
Why it matters: If successful, this will be a blueprint for safely moving – and saving – large numbers of animals in the future.